Category Archives: Memoirs

Narrative of a person’s life or experiences. A true story about a real person. Includes biographies, autobiographies and memoires.

Fragile and Perfectly Cracked by Sophie Wyndham

fragilecover1 in 4 women.  25% of us.  We will walk a path no one wants to travel.  We will endure a pain no one wants to share.  We will join a club no one wants to join.  1 in 4 of us will know what it’s like to lose a child.
Fragile and Perfectly Cracked
by Sophie Wyndham
Independent Book Publisher’s Association
July 2015

In 2009, Sophie and her husband decided they were ready to start a family.  Like so many others, they don’t anticipate any problems.  They don’t yet know the statistics:  that a woman with a normal cycle only has a 20% chance of conceiving each month.   They move forward with excitement for this next stage in their lives.

Almost a year later, Sophie finds herself planning and preparing for the arrival of a son.  After not feeling well for a week, she begins to have complications.  The baby they’ve longed and hoped for will not be leaving the hospital in their arms, only in their hearts.

What follows is another try, another loss, then Sophie’s account of her journey through infertility treatments.   It is a raw, graphic, no holds barred view of what she endured.

Having traveled the same path as Sophie, it’s VERY hard for me to be objective.  The fact that she’s willing to open the pain of these moments and share with the world is highly commendable.  Sophie doesn’t sugar coat what she endured.   It’s a recommended read, but readers should be prepared for graphic details.   There are unhappy parts to any journey through loss and infertility, and Sophie doesn’t hold back.

If there’s one critique I can add, it’s that I wish it was longer.   I think opening up further could help the 75% better understand how to support a friend who might be experiencing infertility or loss.   Adding in what helped her cope best through those losses, particularly with outside support would allow a non-member of the club some insight into helping.

Overall, that’s a really small complaint in sight of the memoir.  Thank you, Sophie, for sharing your hurt.

I’m sorry you had to join this club.

 


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 8 year old science nerd and 10 month old busy body.  You can visit her world of randomness at justwanderingnotlost.net, where there is no spoon.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Finding Noah

Finding NoahAdventure. Quest. Fizzles.

Finding Noah
Brent Baum
October 2015

This documentary film follows a group of archaeologists, theologians, and Ark hunting explorers as they go on an expedition to Mount Ararat to find evidence of Noah’s Ark. The explorers make the trek up the mountain, use sonic technology to find evidence of wood coveted in pitch under the ice.

There are some interesting sections of the film, like the previous sightings of the ark throughout history. The different explorer’s lives are interesting as well, although there isn’t a lot of background info for each most likely because there are so many different people in the film. Also because of the large cast it can be hard to keep up with names.

[SPOILERS] Ark hunting is obviously a labor of love for these people. But the question I’m left with at the end isn’t whether or not there is evidence of Noah’s Ark, but whether or not I want to watch people I don’t know spend a lot of time on a mountain with very little resolution. Don’t read on of you don’t want to know – and I did mention this section contains spoilers – but this film goes no where. It shouldn’t even be called “Finding Noah” as nothing is found and Noah isn’t what they are looking for anyway, it’s the Ark. [END SPOILERS]

As far as documentaries go, this is interesting and covers information about Ararat and the surrounding area that are useful and insightful. I’m an avid watcher of documentaries, but wasn’t for me.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This movie screener was provided for the purpose of evaluation.

My Final Word by Colson and Morse

myfinalwordSame. Late. Unfinished.

My Final Word
Holding Tight to the Issues that Matter Most
by Charles W. Colson
and Anne Morse
Zondervan
August 2015

It’s hard not to admire Chuck Colson. Whether you agree with his politics or not, you have to admit that after conversion to Christianity his life was turned around and then he became a man of integrity and focus. Although not as conservative as he, I enjoyed Colson’s concise and informed commentary. He was thoughtful and intelligent. As such I was really looking forward to this book. It wasn’t what I’d hoped for.

The is a collection of partly finished thoughts and commentaries. They lack the polish of the finished product we are used to from his radio and print commentaries. They are much more exactly how they were described in the preface: recorded thoughts that Colson would collect as he considered current events or after reading something. But having passed away, these are no longer current. Unfortunately, even the most current of the current events – gay marriage – was legalized just prior to this book’s publication. Another example of how these just aren’t timely anymore.

Many of the commentaries run together. Many don’t have a solid conclusion, rather provocative thought. What I took from this is how much the editors helped Colson with his Break Point commentaries. They focused and wrapped them up. These in the book are not at that level.

All an interesting read, but not what I was hoping.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Dukes of Hazzard Reunion Q&A Video #WizardWorld Comic Con Nashville

BookGateway.com Highlights from the Dukes of Hazzard Reunion Q&A panel from Wizard World Comic Con Nashville on 9/27/2015.

The Duke Family — cousins Bo ( John Schneider) and Luke (Tom Wopat), assisted by their cousin Daisy ( Catherine Bach) and their uncle, Jesse (Denver Pyle)– fight the system and root out the corrupt practices of Hazzard County Commissioner Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke) and his bumbling brother-in-law-Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best). The show became an instant hit, never failing to win its time slot during its original run on CBS for seven seasons from 1979-1985. The Duke boys, a pair of ‘Robin Hood’ types complete with bows and Dynamite arrows, are assisted in their adventures by their car, an orange 1969 Dodge Charger named ‘The General Lee’. The Dukes of Hazzard is set in Georgia, and the show’s southern influence is felt throughout. Country singing superstar Waylon Jennings performed the famous theme song to the show (Good Ol’ Boys), and acts as The Balladeer, narrating the adventures of each episode. Furthermore, many of the plots revolved around the Dukes’ history as an ex-moon-shining family. The story followed Bo and Luke until season five, because during episodes 87 through 104, their cousins Coy (Byron Cherry)and Vance (Christopher Mayer) replaced the boys while the went on to join NASCAR Circuit. Bo and Luke won, but returned to Hazzard after great season at the NASCAR Circuit. Innocently naive Deputy Enos Strate, though technically a member of the law under Boss Hogg, strives for justice and fairness, while also having a major crush on Daisy. Ace mechanic Cooter Davenport helps the Dukes along the way, and Deputy Cletus Hogg, though not as honest as Enos, subtlety assists the Dukes escape from ‘Hogg justice’. The series had an extremely successful run in syndication beginning in 1996 on TNN, the Nashville Network. This led to a resurgence in the popularity of the “Dukes”. Two reunion movies, featuring the surviving members of the cast, aired in 1997 and 2000. The show currently airs on CMT (Country Music Television) and in the summer of 2005 experienced another huge revival with the film version, starring Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Willie Nelson and Jessica Simpson. A Prequel was Made in 2007 and shown in 2 weeks on ABC Family in 2008 during the summer.

**Details taken from Wizard World press releases. See http://www.wizardworld.com/nashville2015.html

Coffee, Tea, and Holy Water by Hudson

Coffee-Tea-and-Holy-WaterThere are a lot of really great books out today from authors trying to call American Christians back from materialism, false idols and malaise – the American church – but this book takes us one step further by putting our version of Christianity in its place in the big picture. Not all Christianity is the same. Not all issues are the same. Not all methods are the same. But Christ is the same.

Coffee, Tea, and Holy Water:
One Woman’s Journey to Experience Christianity Around the Globe
by Amanda Hudson
Abingdon
March 2015

Amanda Hudson decided to visit five different countries to find out what Christianity was like on the ground and in the homes of the believers in those countries. What she finds is eye opening. Brazil, for instance, is extremely superstitious and much less materialistic and the challenges of spreading the Gospel are specific to their culture. Wales suffers from apathy and a post-Christian mindset. Tanzania, China and Honduras all have their own customs, their own challenges, their own versions of worship. Every new place she visits works to shed light on what American Christianity struggles with and ideas for overcoming those struggles.

This is part travelogue, part diary and part challenge to overcome American Christian issues, this book is a must read. As someone whow has been on short term trips to other countries I can attest to the need for Americans to think outside the borders of our narrow, very rich lives, and see the world and Christianity in the big picture. When we see how others live in abject poverty but demonstrate limitless generosity we are humbled. When we see actual idols – small statues! – next to statues of Christ, the Bible takes on a very real, very timely message for those who barely crack it open because of its otherness.

In my opinion, every Christian in America should visit Christians in other countries on short term trips, but if they can’t then books like this one are a must read. Christ is there in every culture, and finding Christ in the midst of all the different cultures in this book help readers cut out all the excess and see the beauty of a refined and purified Gospel.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Beyond: Edward Snowden by D’Orazio and Lauer

Let’s get this out of the way: if Snowden is right then the NSA just cached this review and could use it to aggregate data on what we at BookGateway.com and I personally believe about a variety of topics, including America, the President, political views, beliefs and more. If that bothers you then you may have Snowden to thank (or blame) for illegally leaking info about these programs to the public. The real question is: what now?

Beyond: Edward Snowden
Written by Valerie D’Orazio
Illustrated by Dan Lauer
Bluewater Productions
May 2014

Is Snowden a whistleblower or a traitor? How did he get access to so much sensitive data? What has he done with the data? That’s one side of the coin. The other side is more about why the NSA is collecting all this data? What will the NSA do with the data? And how did the NSA get approval to collect so much data on American citizens? Yeah, no answers here. Just questions. Exactly like the comic.

Like an illustrated Wikipedia page, Bluewater and D’Orazio’s Snowden is a brief biographical illustrated article that gives insight and asks questions that are missing from so much of the nation’s dialog on this subject. Not simply traitor or patriot but more real life. Nuanced. And complicated. A great starting place for those interested in Snowden and aren’t sure they are getting the whole story by just reading the headlines.

D’Orazio does a good job of building a biography of Snowden prior to his leaks and then posing questions. She doesn’t answer them and does a good job at walking the line between journalist and editorial. Lauer does an adequate job of illustration. It’s stilted and stiff, but the style matches the almost realism of the topic. It won’t win awards and isn’t pandering to the Jim Lee fanboys. It works though.

For more information about Snowden, check out this video of his recent interview with Brian Williams.


Inside The Mind of Edward Snowden ~ NBC News… by HumanSlinky

If you are interested in these kinds of instructive, editorial comics then check out the rest of the Bluewater lineup. They’ve also covered newsworthy people and topics such as Colin Powell, the Tea Party Movement, Hillary Clinton, Bill O’Reilly, Chris Christie, Anderson Cooper, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Barak Obama.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Running For My Life by Lomong

He was six years old when his childhood ended. Though still alive, the only life he had ever known stood out in front of the Sudanese church with tears running down their faces as he was roughly thrown into the back of a truck and driven away with the other ‘lost’ boys by a corrupt militia.

Running For My Life
By Lopez Lomong
Thomas Nelson
July 2012

This was 1991, the year Lopez Lomong’s life became nothing more than sleeping, eating and going to the bathroom in the cramped quarters of one small tent. They all waited in fear of what was to come next. When the soldiers noticed boys dying, they decided it was time to begin the training. That’s when they began to drag the boys big enough to hold a rifle out into the unknown.

It was time for Lopez to make his break. A few boys from his village, whom he referred to as his ‘angels’, came to him with their escape plan one evening, and before he knew it, they were all running for their lives.

Running in the wrong direction, the landed their selves in a camp in Kenya. But this camp was different, and he began to dream. Having been invited to watch an old farmers t.v. (something he had never seen before) with some older boys, he had the opportunity to see the Olympics. He saw Michael Johnson run, and he knew he just had to find a way to America. If he could not see his parents again, he would keep running. But this time for Gold.

Run along side as Lopez unfurls an incredible story of hope! Get a glimpse of the redemption he experienced when he began to dream.

I enjoyed this book! Of course, it is not written in the style of a seasoned author. But what you get is a man who wants to tell his story. And what a great story. I think it is always a pleasure to peek into a life that is vastly different than your own, to help you appreciate and better understand those around you. I would highly recommend this!


Heather Ring says that books are her plane ticket into another world, “I’d feel lost with out them. Reading is a part of me. However I am also an avid lover of the outdoors and pouring into my creative outlets. But I think my biggest passion, is spending time with my family and friends.”

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Almond Tree Michelle by Corasanti

This is a tragically touching story about how a Palestinian family learns to cope with having to start over during the Israeli occupation of the Gaza strip and how two people learn to get along despite the history their people’s suffered at the hands of one another.

The Almond Tree
By Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Garnet Publishing
September 2012

One is a young Palestinian man and the other an older, wiser Israeli teacher. Each grew up hating each other for what had transpired between their countries. They reluctantly end up working together and do so for 40 years with amazing results.

I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend this to others.


Shelley Walling is a 43 year male who is on disability retirement from complications from brain surgery. He was an Electrical Dispatcher for 11 years until the surgeries, he now enjoys spending time with his wife and two girls who are still at home along with four grown boys as well. He and his wife have an interest in sustainable and off-grid living and hope to live off-grid one day. He likes to read books about nutrition and medicine, Christian fiction and end times theology.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Fresh off the Boat by Huang

Eddie Huang is best known as a rising chef, a blogger provocateur, and the founder of Boahaus in New York. Eddie Huang is an Asian-American who has defied every “model minority” stereotype. This book is an inspiring story about family, identify and finding a place to belong.

Fresh off the Boat
by Eddie Huang
Spiegel & Grau
January 2013

He was a kid who did not respect authority. got into trouble easily because of his attitude, and did not get along with his mad family. His father always seem to put him down and his mother yelled a lot. He was/is a bright person, but did not always use common sense. The book is a lot about food. Food seemed to be Eddie’s anchor – lifeline.

The book was interesting, but I didn’t like it. The language is very filthy – too much – did not need. This foul language seems to distract from the real story. Eddie appears to be a person with a large chip on his shoulder and a very filthy mouth. Let’s hope his blog is a lot cleaner than his book.

Not recommended.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is an 80 year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of the secular on top..

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Sweet Hell on Fire by Lunsford

Let me begin by saying, Sara Lunsford’s Sweet Hell on Fire: A Memoir of the Prison I Worked In and the Prison I Lived In is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. In her writing debut Lunsford details a year long account of her role as female officer in the male prison system and her dangerous decline into alcoholism. A gritty depiction, Sweet Hell on Fire leaves little to the imagination chronicling how her violent exchanges with inmates seem to seep into her daily life and behavior.

Sweet Hell on Fire
A Memoir of the Prison I Worked In and the Prison I Lived In
By Sara Lunsford
Sourcebooks
November 2012

Sara Lunsford notes in the foreword that when she originally scripted her memoir it spoke only of her life on the job, leaving out personal details that would inevitably reveal any mistakes or shortcomings. As a reader I am so thankful that she decided to re-evaluate this decision. By disclosing her imperfections she was able to make it not only a collection of frightening battles of bravado between herself and the inmates, but instead a profound, hear wrenching account of her personal evolution. I do feel, however, that there are certainly times where Lunsford’s writing style should have been a bit more descriptive, focusing less on profanities and more on prose.

Overall, for a first time reviewer I am certainly satisfied with my decision to read such a compelling story written by such an honest author.


Lindsay Green is a Midwest gal spending her twenties in South. While she doesn’t read as often as she should thanks to Netflix, she mostly enjoys memoirs and all types of fiction. Most of her time is spent with friends playing board games or discussing the best, new television series.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.